IGNATIEFF LISTENS TO SASKATCHEWAN FARMERS
The Harper government has to do a lot more to help prairie farmers battling the worst farmland flooding situation in history.
That’s the message federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff took away from talks he held this past weekend with farmers and farm leaders – after visiting some water-damaged areas near Saskatoon.
Mr. Ignatieff noted the Conservatives easily found more than a billion dollars for just three days of G-8/G-20 meetings in Toronto – which produced nothing to bolster a struggling global economy. They’re spending another $16 billion on an untendered contract to buy military aircraft – which senior defence experts describe as absurd and appalling.
Mr. Harper wastes hundreds of millions of dollars annually on partisan advisors, consultants and advertising. He’s spending more on prisons than on education or skills training. His priorities are disgraceful.
The stingy amount of farm aid announced to date ($30/acre, with only $18 coming from the feds) is clearly insufficient when you consider basic production costs are in the neighbourhood of $150/acre.
Plus, there will be additional land rehabilitation expenses this year, just when farm incomes are being slashed by a staggering $3 billion because of the flooding.
Further details are impossible to get. The Conservatives promised full information and application forms within a week of the Federal-Provincial Agriculture Ministers Meeting in Saskatoon at the beginning of July. That timeline has long since come and gone.
There are no clear rules on eligibility or how to apply. Livestock producers are apparently being excluded altogether. And it’s rumoured that anything “extra” that farmers get through the Agri-Recovery program will be counted against what they might otherwise have received anyway under another program, Agri-Stability.
So it’s not net additional help!
Mr. Ignatieff came to see for himself. He listened. And he committed to fighting for a better deal.
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